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A Memorable Saturday in April

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May 20, 2012
by Jon  Ringer       


 I had just finished speaking to about 50 people. A tree line behind me, a slight ridge with a pond below lie in front. A Color Guard, an Honor Guard with rifles. A few old soldiers, some family and friends. Remarks from a friend, a reading sent from our captain who had been seriously wounded. A man of the cloth, a bugler.

 And, a new stone to dignify the grave of a fallen comrade.  It was a cold... quite cold... and gray day at a small cemetery in an equally small Michigan town.

 Forty-four years ago and halfway around the world, one hundred of us sat inside a small firebase, surrounded by a ten foot high dirt wall. Just enough room inside for four big guns and a few dreams about someday going home and back to the lives we thought were so perfect.

Few of the days could be described as “great”, but those in August and September were not pleasant at all. The Biblical tale of “forty days and forty nights” fit the rain shower of mortars that fell upon us. A dozen attacks each day.

We had taken casualties. Guys you knew of. Knew well.  Friends. The rest of us felt we were fortunate. All of us had a crossroad incident or two that would stick in our minds forever.  An incident that made us wonder, “What if Iʼd turned left instead of right... come out of the bunker a minute earlier... traded duty that night? What if?”